Protecting your most valuable asset—your smile—through regular teeth cleanings can help ensure it will last a lifetime. You probably take excellent care of your teeth at home with daily brushing and flossing, but by visiting your dental hygienist and dentist at least twice a year, they will be able to remove built-up plaque and tartar that cause cavities and gum disease. Your hygienist and dentist will also be able to identify smaller issues before they become bigger and painful problems.
Why are teeth cleanings important?
Your teeth cleaning appointment is the most important appointment to make and keep in order to maintain optimal oral health. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the United States, and routine teeth cleaning appointments are essential for preventing disease and tooth loss.
Plus, having your teeth cleaned at least twice each year enables your hygienist and dentist to spot small issues so they can be treated before they develop into major problems. Your teeth cleaning appointment also provides an opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have about your oral health or your home care.
What happens during a teeth cleaning appointment?
Your teeth cleaning appointment begins with your hygienist updating your x-rays. Then your hygienist (or dentist) will take measurements around your teeth and gums, making a note of areas where there are deep pockets.
Next, your teeth are cleaned using special instruments and techniques to gently remove plaque and tartar, paying careful attention to areas between your teeth and along your gumline where gum and decay-causing bacteria tend to hide. As your hygienist or dentist cleans your teeth, they will be looking for areas where home brushing and flossing needs to improve and help you improve your technique, so your teeth and gums stay healthier between cleaning visits.
A special fluoride paste is used to polish and remove stains from your teeth, bringing out their shine and smooth feel. Once your hygienist is finished cleaning your teeth, your dentist will come in and interpret the updated x-rays.
Then your dentist will do an oral cancer screening, which consists of an extra-oral and intra-oral soft tissue exam followed by thoroughly and carefully examining all of your teeth and gums. Your dentist and hygienist will make recommendations base on your dietary habits, what they see on your x-rays, and what they find during your cleaning and exam.
Does getting my teeth cleaned hurt?
Most patients report little to no discomfort during their teeth cleaning. In fact, many patients have commented on how it was the gentlest cleaning they have ever had! However, for patients that have not been maintaining their regular cleanings or do not adequately brush or floss at home, the process can be a little bit uncomfortable. If you are very anxious about visiting the dentist, know you have gum disease or sensitive teeth, then your hygienist can numb your teeth and gums prior to your cleaning to make you comfortable.
We know many patients have anxiety when it comes to visiting the dentist and therefore postpone coming in for their teeth cleanings and exams. As a result, small issues turn into big and expensive treatments. Our goal is to give you a relaxed and comfortable experience, and we work hard to make sure you are taken care of.
What is the correct way to brush and floss?
We recommend you brush your teeth in the morning and brush and floss your teeth at night right before jumping into bed. Use toothpaste with fluoride, such as Crest, Colgate, or Sensodyne, will fight against decay-causing bacteria.
- Place the head of your toothbrush on your teeth, then aim the bristles 45 degrees toward your gumline.
- Move the brush in a circular scrubbing motion.
- Brush the outer surfaces of all teeth, making sure to keep your brush angled against your gumline.
- Next brush the inner surfaces of all teeth, making sure to keep your brush angled against your gumline.
- To brush the inside surfaces of your front teeth, tilt your brush vertically and use gentle up and down strokes with the head of the brush.
- Lastly, scrub the top surfaces of all your back teeth.
Plaque causes cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. The only way to remove plaque from between your teeth is to floss (or use a water flosser).
Here is how to floss:
- Use a piece of dental floss about a foot and a half long. Hold each end of the floss by circling it around your middle fingers.
- Hold the floss by using your thumb and index fingers, leaving about an inch of floss. Use a gentle back and forth motion to guide the floss between your teeth. This method prevents snapping the floss into your gums which can lead to discomfort.
- Bring the floss below your gums, making sure it disappears. Curve the floss around each tooth and use a gentle back and forth and up and down motion to sweep the teeth.
- Repeat this procedure on both sides of each tooth.
If you notice bleeding while you floss and brush, please see your hygienist and dentist immediately.